Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Amigos Original Tex-Mex Restaurant & Cantina

Altamonte Springs
120 N Westmonte Drive
Altamonte Springs,FL
32714
(407) 774-4334

Click Here To See The Menu




When my mother recently mentioned having dinner at the Amigos in Altamonte Springs, I was a little bit dumbfounded!

Amigos In Altamonte Springs you say? Where is this Amigos at? I know of a lot of restaurants in Central Florida, and all the establishments that line SR.436 in Altamonte Springs....but an Amigos Tex-Mex restaurant...???

 I could recall no such place.

This immediately sparked my curiosity to find out about this so called Amigos in Altamonte Springs.

Upon arriving to 120 N. Westmonte Drive and seeing a sign down the road in a plaza.....it dawned on me...I had in fact been here. It was many moons ago and I could barely remember the place. Whats even worse is that in my day job doing sales, I drive up and down SR. 436 a few times a week, and never even noticed it was there.

But maybe its not all my fault......

Here's Why:

Amigos Tex-Mex Restaurant has recently changed owners. The new owner Mark Follett acquired the restaurant  in February 2012 from the original owners, who opened this location in 1988 

Being in business for over 20 years, and wanting to get out of the restaurant business altogether made the previous owners a bit  lackadaisical. Which is to say they lacked enthusiasm and desire to market Amigos and continue to develop the brand.

Over the years,  the trees grew taller, the weeds grew wild, and the bushes branched out. This caused a covering up of the restaurants signage and even blocked a great outdoor patio area.

As you can imagine if they let the weeds go, so too did some things inside the restaurant need to be pruned.

Enter Mark Follett:

Mark has been in the restaurant business for over 20 years. Having worked in the past at Amigos as a server and eventually working his way up to area director, he knows a thing or two about Amigos as well. So when he was given the opportunity to take ownership of the Altamonte Springs location, he jumped at the opportunity.


His first order of business:

Get the trees, bushes, and weeds out of the way that were blocking the sign and covering up a great outdoor patio area.


Second:

Get the restaurant back to the consistency and standards that people have come to know and love about Amigos.


In case you are unfamiliar with Amigos Tex-Mex.... they are a chain restaurant that used to have quite a few locations in Central Florida, but now have only two. The other Amigos is in Waterford Lakes Town Center in Orlando.

Amigos serves up authentic Tex-Mex food and Margaritas by the pitcher.

There is quite a bit of misunderstanding of what Mexican food is and what "Tex-Mex" food is.

 So let us clarify...

It used to be said that, Texans went to "Mexican restaurants" and ate "Mexican food." Then in 1972, The Cuisines of Mexico, cookbook was released by food authority Diana Kennedy. Her book drew the line between authentic  Mexican food and what she called "mixed plates" that are eaten at "so-called Mexican restaurants"

Kennedy and her friends in the food community began referring to Americanized Mexican food as "Tex-Mex," a term previously used to describe anything that was half-Texan and half-Mexican.

Tex-Mex cuisine is characterized by its heavy use of melted cheese, meats (particularly beef and pork), beans, and spices, as well as Mexican-style tortillas.

Texas-style chili con carne, chili con queso, nachos, and fajitas are all Tex-Mex inventions

Texas-Mexican restaurant owners were not too happy about this new name. However as much as they disdained it, it was a huge success.

The words, "Tex-Mex" had an exciting ring. It evoked images of cantinas, cowboys, bullhorns and the Wild West.  Thus began the huge popularity of the Tex-Mex restaurant idea all over the world. Serving up heaping piles of tortilla chips, margaritas and chili con carne from Florida to France.

Inside Amigos you will find the traditional makings of a Texas Mexican restaurant.

There are murals on the walls depicting Mexico, big Texas bull horns, and the place is dotted with license plates from Texas.

Amigos has a genuine cantina feel to it.
   
  
Upon being seated you are brought a generous portion of fresh tortilla chips and bowls of salsa. Which was very good.

You can also order queso by the bowl or cup as well as guacamole.





My wife went with the Liberation Combo Platter. We thought it would be a good combo to get a sampling of the menu.

It comes with a Tomale, Chile Rolleno, Enchilada, and a Taco with the traditional refried beans and rice.

The combo platter was all very good and tasty. It certainly fits the bill for a good & gooey heavy portion of Tex-Mex. The only draw back we had was when my wife was chewing up the stem of the Chile Relleno---It was covered with cheese---and she ate it by accident!


I opted for the Chicken Flauta's

I received four flutes filled with juicy and tender chicken. The Flauta's are served with a bowl of Tomatillo sauce that is delicious.

Initially I was disappointed that they did not come with queso, however the Tomatillo sauce was a very good alternative. Its hard to find any Mexican or "Tex-Mex" places that even have the sauce. I was also impressed at how juicy the chicken was, as it tends to dry out when being fried.  



No trip to a Mexican restaurant is complete for my wife unless she tries out the Flan. Its one of her favorite dishes and she does not like to share it.

The Flan was very good.

It had a nice thick feeling to it, but was still silky smooth. My wife approves of Amigos Flan.




 

Since my wife would only let me have one bite of her Flan...I had to order something for myself.

I got the Sopapilla


The Sopapilla is a kind of dough formed into rounded shapes that are deep fried. The dough will puff up and form a pocket inside once it is fried.  

Amigos serves them up drizzled with honey and served with a side of Cinnamon ice cream.

Can I tell you something?

Fried dough...

Honey....

Cinnamon Ice Cream...

WOW!!---This is one of the best sopapillas I have ever had---and one of the best deserts I have had in quite some time.


Overall ....

We have to say that we really enjoyed rediscovering Amigos Tex-Mex in Altamonte Springs.

It was quite refreshing to go to an actual "Tex-Mex" place that is not confused about its identity, like so many other Mexican restaurants.

Mark is definitely on the right track to establish Amigos as a serious contender once again in the restaurant business. Not just in the niche Tex-Mex segment either.

Tastes Of Orlando recommends you stop by and visit Mark and enjoy one of their great menu items (The fajitas looked awesome) and enjoy some authentic "Texas-Mexican" food.

PS....GET THE SOPAPILLAS!!


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